Interview with Captain Richard J Husk

Notes of an interview with Captain R J Husk made by Nicholas Butler in August 1982

These are the notes made by Nicholas Butler who interviewed Captain Richard J Husk RN in August 1982 as part of his research for his book “The Story of Wivenhoe”.   These notes have been re-typed by Ann Jones from Nicholas Butler’s original notes and posted here by Frances Belsham.

About Captain Husk

Captain Husk lives at South Cottage, Cage End, Hatfield Broad Oak, Nr Bishops Stortford Herts. Captain Husk is the great grandson of the founder of Husk’s Yard.

What Captain Husk told Nick Butler

Captain Husk showed Nicholas Butler a sheaf of photographs and other items as follows:-

  1. A large card containing 3 photographs, namely James Nicholas Husk, the founder of the firm, James Nicholas Husk his son, and James Husk his grandson.   This last Husk is shown in the uniform of a RNR officer, a rank he held in WW1.   There is a gap on the card where a photograph of Captain Husk’s uncle William, once stood.   At the foot of the card is a very useful cutting from the Essex County Telegraph of 2 May 1931 about the history of the yard.
  2. Oil painting of the yard in 1976 by Bruce Woodcock, a painter who apparently lives at Wivenhoe.   A reasonable but not inspired portrait of Cook’s.
  3. Watercolour on card by Isiah Taylor.   The “Surge” 14 tons built by Husk’s with sails by Lapthornes of Cowes.
  4. Launch programme for the launch of “James Howell” at Tilbury on 2 May 1925, she was 74 feet long.
  5. Family tree.
  6. Family tree.
  7. Envelope addressed to Beau Site.   (The house, now owned by Mr Brian Horrigan, has now been renamed)   It was built in about 1930 of bricks fired from clay dug on the land which James Husk owned down on the fields towards Brightlingsea.   It was built by James Husk and his workmen during the Depression.   The envelope contains:-
  1. Indenture dated 22 June 1829 of John Kent the Younger to his father, also John Kent.   The elder Kent is a Licensed Dredgerman of the Colne Fishery Company.   The younger Kent aged 14, is to be taught the trade of a mariner and oyster dredger.
  2. A certificate dated 3 March 1905 which certifies that James Husk was “regularly received into Freemasonry on the 11 day of November AD 1902 and was admitted to the third degree on 13 November 1904 in the Colne Lodge No 2477 Wivenhoe”   (In Wivenhoe, senior artisans/tradesmen were all freemasons,   “They gave the most fabulous children’s parties)
  3. Fire insurance policy in respect of the Ballast Quay Docks in the parish of Elmstead, comprising a workshop and store built of timber with a corrugated iron roof, a store shed built of timber with a corrugated iron and felt roof and the boats in course of construction.   The policy, dated 24 March 1908 and the principal party to it is Nicholas James Husk Jnr of Wivenhoe boat builder.   The sum insured is £800.
  4. Bundle of papers belonging to James Husk comprising:-
  1. Indenture dated 16 January 1894.   James Husk is apprenticed to Arthur George Mumford for five years as an engine fitter.   He is to receive 5 shillings a week in the first year 7 shillings during the second, 8 shillings during the third, 10 shillings during the fourth and 12 shillings in the fifth.
  2. Testimonial from A G Mumford.   James Husk was employed at Mumford’s in Culver Street from 16 January 1894 to 4 August 1899. “He was steady, industrious and a good workman”
  3. Testimonial from the foreman at Mumford’s.   He was employed as a fitter on marine engines and steam pumps for 51/2 years “and was in every way satisfactory, both as to character and mechanical abilities”  (ii) above also says he was employed on turning, engine fitting and erecting.
  4. Testimonial from Chief Engineer of S.Y.Seamaid (or Teamaid?)   He was Second Engineer from 5 August 1899 to 4 November 1899.   He was “strictly sober and attentive to his duties at all times”
  5. Ditto from J Hadley, Master of the Seamaid.
  6. Certificate of Discharge relating to the above.

(vii)-(ix) Three testimonials relating to to J H’s employment as fourth engineer aboard the steamer Salfordia from 24 November 1899 to 3 April 1902.   He left to go before the Board of Trade for examination.

(x)     Certificate of Discharge relating to the above.   Character for Ability and for conduct, both very good.

(xi)-(xii) Ditto

(xiii)  Testimonial from Messrs Sivewright, Bacon & Co.   He served as an engineer from 23 November 1900 to 12 March 1904.   “He was reported to be a hard working mechanic, capable and energetic, at all times sober and attentive to his duties, and we have much pleasure in recommending him”.

(xiv) – (xvi) Testimonials.   He served as third engineer aboard the steamship Palatinia from 25 November 1902 to 18 March 1904.

(xvii) and (xviii) Testimonials.   J Husk served as an engine fitter to Forrestt & Son Ltd, The Shipyard, Wyvenhoe from 14 August to 8 September 1892.   He worked late hours on urgent work and was “a very good workman, sober and industrious.”

(xix) Testimonial: third engineer aboard the steamship Manaton (?) from 8 to 19 July 1902.   Left to attend to family matters.   “Strictly sober and attentive to his duties”.

(xx) – xxii) Testimonials: chief engineer aboard the steamship yacht Rannoch from 1905 to 1913.   Glowing reports.

  1. Photograph: Beau Site. (Now owned by Brian Horrigan)
  2. Photograph: ARP Circa 1940.   2nd from left, front row: J. Husk.   3rd from right, front row Rev Gosney.   (Dr Radcliffe, Richard and Rodney Pawsey and their mother Majorie Pawsey)
  3. Photograph: Uncle William Husk.   A councillor.   See Dick Barton 1909-10 Born 1878 died 1956.
  4. Photograph: 3 boats built by Husk circa 1880-90, perhaps near Arlesford Creek.
  5. Photograph: steamyacht on seawall with small boys May 1905.  (I remember 1936-7 2 or 3 boats of that size laid up there then.
  6. Steam launch in garden at Wivenhoe.   Steam pinnace.   Engine and boiler by Mumford’s of Colchester circa 1890.   (Husk’s had a house in the shipyard from which they ran the yard.   Later this house became an integral part of the yard when Beau Site was built.)
  7. J. Husk’s certificate of Discharge which includes a Certificate of Competency as First Class Engineer, which J Husk passed on 20 May 1904.
  8. The Leader. 30 July 1949.   Article by Stella Martin Currey: Positively last appearance.   It is about an actress called Ada Constance Kent, a second cousin of James Husk.   She lived in a tiny cottage at Fingringhoe.   She disappeared in 1939.   Ten years later a skeleton was found at the cottage, which was otherwise undisturbed.   It seems that the skeleton was not that of Ada Kent.   There was an inquest at Witham at which James Husk gave evidence.   He is described in the article as having a pink face under curly grey hair.
  9. Photograph Husk’s Yard:   The clapboard building.  Taken in circa 1920.   To the left is the new shed going up.
  10. Photograph: one of grandfather’s gigs, circa 1880-90 at the bottom of Anglesea Road.
  11. Photograph: boat being launched from Husk’s between the two World Wars.
  12. Photograph: the Kingwell family at the launching of Wyvern III in 1935 in Husk’s Hard facing West.
  13. Another version of No 17 above.
  14. Photograph: the Rosabelle at Wivenhoe. 3:x:20. (Husk’s address was The Quay Works)
  15. In Memoriam card for John Kent who died 17 August 1881 aged 99 years and 11 months.   He was related to the Kent of Kent Blaxhill’s in Colchester.
  16. Photograph Wivenhoe School circa 1887-8 showing James Husk with a scarf.
  17. Photograph Aunts Lily and Elsie Husk – both school teachers.   Elsie on the horse, Lily standing.
  18. Photograph: interior of Husk’s Yard (very old and faded) circa 1897
  19. Photograph: Allied Fleet at Suala Bay
  20. Photograph: ground plan and elevation of Rosabelle.
  21. Lloyd’s Register for 1903.   Once the property of T. Pim.   Forrestt’s, Husk and Husk junior.
  22. Photograph: the Liberty (did she come to Wivenhoe to be laid up?)
  23. Photograph: Husk’s Yard. Taken inside the clapboard building looking up from the river circa 1920.
  24. Photograph: Wivenhoe School circa 1886-7.
  25. Photograph: clapboard shed and the forerunner of the old iron shed circa 1910.
  26. Photograph: the “recently erected” shed at Husk’s.   The one upstream.   Two sheds like it built during the war.   Cox and King were there.   Not working when I was a lad.   One of the two boats in called Bittern circa 1920.
  27. Photograph: boat inside clapboard shed at Husk’s.
  28. Ditto
  29. Photograph: circa 1880 3 Husk’s gigs drawn up on the hard.  Is it Ballast Quay Farm in the background?
  30. Plan in conveyance of 6 July 1900.   E S Beard to N J Husk. (Land between the two railway lines.   Farmer Bowes was cantankerous.   His land was good for tobogganing (aim was not to be caught by Farmer Bowes)
  31. Photograph: the Rosabelle 3:x:29.
  32. Photograph: steam pinnace in somebody’s backyard (see above)
  33. Extract from ———Boat: a 60’ motor yacht. 21:ii:30.   Built by Husk & Son Quay Works Wivenhoe.
  34. Plans of the above yacht in colour
  35. Ditto in detail.   She may be still about in Brightlingsea.
  36. Photograph: James Husk. Died 1956.
  37. Photograph: could be the Margaret May (almost certainly is) about to be launched 1930.
  38. Photograph Margaret May with the two clapboard buildings.
  39. Photograph: Husk’s interior with amusement boats built for Clacton.   During the Depression 1929-30.
  40. Blueprint for royal barge.  A Husk plan. Undated. (was she actually built?)
  41. Blueprint: twin screw motor cruiser circa 1928 Husk’s
  42. Blueprint of Rosabelle. Built at Leith
  43. Extract from the Yachting World of 13:ii:31.  A range of dinghies built by Husk.
  44. Blueprint: 17 ton cutter built for Stanley Cooper.
  45. Blueprint: Husk’s 50-50 cruiser.   50% engine effectiveness 50% sailing.
  46. Blueprint: Rosabelle
  47. Photograph: Rosabelle at Wivenhoe, excellent view. 3:x:29
  48. Photograph: motor launch at Wivenhoe.  James Husk in it.
  49. Photograph: The Quay, Butcher’s series, a postcard circa 1929
  50. Card: Wivenhoe Sailing Club Annual Dinner 1949 at The Oak Hall, Culver Street Colchester.


Note: Richard Husk and his wife visited Wivenhoe at the launch of this web site in April 2015 – click here for the story and photographs

This page was added on 03/11/2016.

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